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The Wall Street Journal: Feds break up multimillion-dollar, multistate catalytic-converter theft ring


Federal authorities took a big crack at catalytic converter thefts, announcing raids and arrests from California to New Jersey on Wednesday to break up a network of thieves, dealers and processors that netted hundreds of millions of dollars from the fast-growing crime.

“‘This national network of criminals hurt victims across the country. They made hundreds of millions of dollars in the process — on the backs of thousands of innocent car owners.’”

— FBI Director Christopher Wray

Catalytic converters are cylindrical hunks of metal in the exhaust system of most cars that use pricey metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium to break down harmful gasses into less harmful ones. Thefts have been skyrocketing in recent years as thieves using battery-powered saws and high-speed jacks make off with the devices in less than a minute.

See: The cost of car insurance keeps going up, and it’s likely to get worse — here’s why

Federal, local and state authorities carried out arrests, searches and seizures in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia, the Justice Department said in a press release.

Authorities charged 21 defendants from five states in indictments unsealed Wednesday in the Eastern District of California and the Northern District of Oklahoma, officials said. Authorities said they executed more than 32 search warrants and seized millions of dollars in homes, bank accounts, cash and luxury vehicles.

An expanded version of this report appears at

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